Bhutto supporters rush an injured man to an ambulance after the Rawalpindi blast. (AFP)
Rawalpindi, Dec. 27 (Agencies): Pakistan Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif announced today that his party was boycotting the January 8 parliamentary elections after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
He also urged that President Pervez Musharraf resign immediately.
The holding of fair and free elections is not possible in the presence of (President) Pervez Musharraf. After the killing of Benazir Bhutto, I announce that the Pakistan Muslim League-N will boycott the elections, the former Prime Minister said, referring to his party.
Bhuttos assassination triggered a wave of anger across Pakistan tonight. Fourteen people, including 10 in Karachi, were killed as angry supporters of the former Prime Minister looted and set fire to vehicles, shops and petrol pumps in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Multan.
As a result of the violence, Pakistan put its paramilitary forces on red alert.
Sharif urged other parties to join the boycott. A collective response, including by Bhuttos Pakistan Peoples Party could seriously undermine the legitimacy of the vote as Musharraf attempts to engineer a transition to democracy after eight years of military rule.
I demand that Musharraf should quit immediately, he said. Musharraf is the cause of all the problems. The federation of Pakistan cannot remain intact in the presence of President Musharraf. Sharif, 57, was a rival of Bhutto as the two vied for power in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Sharif said after three days of mourning, he would chalk out a strategy to challenge Musharrafs rule but he rebutted suggestions that he could gain political capital from her demise. I think nobody stands to gain and nobody should be looking for any gains, he told the BBC.
As word of Bhuttos death spread throughout a shaken and distraught Pakistan, Sharif rushed to the Rawalpindi hospital where she died and sat silently next to her body. Benazir Bhutto was also my sister, and I will be with you to take the revenge for her death, he said afterward, his eyes at times welling up with tears.
Dont feel alone. I am with you. We will take revenge on the rulers.
Sharif and Bhutto, both two-time former Prime Ministers, were campaigning for the January 8 elections.